by the CI Editorial Committee
Healthcare has taken an interesting turn over the past decade to improve the patient experience. Research suggesting that a non-clinical atmosphere is not only highly desirable but also a powerful contributor to both staff and patient satisfaction is revolutionizing the aesthetic of interior environments in healthcare. Borrowing from the hospitality and corporate industries, the healthcare market has softened seating, brought in warm, natural paint colors, and enhanced wayfinding graphics that reduce stress in navigating the often-complex floor plan.
Technology, too, is being leveraged to connect rural communities with telehealth resources, advance surgical capabilities that reduce recovery time, and connect patients with information – anything from online dashboards that securely house medical records and upcoming appointments, to apps that alert arriving guests of their anticipated wait time.
These are exciting advancements that deliver positive experiential results, but healthcare also needs to meet and exceed the high bar of operational results set before them. Lean is certainly the most well-known tool in this area. By instilling principles that minimize waste in procedures and processes, Lean healthcare promotes a culture of continual improvement and frequent communication. Hospitals are also subject to set standards of operational efficiency that directly translate to dollars – patients per hour, for example.
Knowing that the healthcare industry has both experiential and operational goals, and the immediate need for innovative, agile care networks as we recover post-pandemic, the question becomes: how to maintain high levels of patient satisfaction while optimizing efficiency? If telehealth is a growing trend in 2021, what are ways to connect over the digital divide?
Just as in the past decade, healthcare looked to other industries for inspiration; there could be an opportunity to explore associations between telehealth visits and student engagement in a virtual classroom. Albeit quite different on the surface, educational districts were faced with a similar challenge: how to maintain meaningful exchanges, communicate a profound level of care over a computer screen, and assess or share information without the benefit of physically occupying common space. The trends emerging in healthcare post-pandemic could also apply within educational districts, with the reverse being equally plausible:
Trend #1: Move from a passive system of measurement to a dynamic system of action. Gone are the days when a survey was sufficient to capture the full spectrum of patient needs and experiences. Metrics now need to be collected and translated into actionable items that advance the healthcare delivery model and subsequently, enhance the patient experience.
Trend #2: Digital space is just as important as physical space. Bringing that same attention to detail and experience that has transformed healthcare environments into non-clinical, hospitality-inspired spaces, now needs to show up digitally. Websites, digital dashboards, apps and telehealth user experience is now a critical component of the patient experience. Find out what’s working, what’s not, and what’s missing from the patient’s perspective and then make the necessary improvements.
Trend #3: We all own and contribute to social responsibility. Across all industries, there is rightfully an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, trust and transparency. How often is a measure of patient experience exclusive rather than inclusive based on who has access to care? Through an honest evaluation of staff and patient feedback, health systems can model a culture that builds and strengthens communities everywhere.
Over the past decade, healthcare has learned from other industries like hospitality in order to advance services. As this post-pandemic climate unfolds, there is a challenge to maintain both experiential and operational results. Looking laterally and learning from other industries provides an opportunity to innovate – to create something new, something needed. It can also serve to differentiate organizations that are choosing to take on a leadership role in this new era with confidence, empathy and action.